Included in today's update: A Message from Father Keith about Resuming In-Person Worship, the Liturgy for Tomorrow's Worship, and V.B.S. in a B.O.X. Starts Monday!
FROM THE RECTOR
Saturday, 27 June 2020
In the past day or so, you should have received a letter from me announcing the date for resuming in-person worship services here at Messiah:
SUNDAY, JULY 12th, 9:30AM
Of course, with developments and plans from so many sources advancing so rapidly, it was almost inevitable that even before we could get word to you, there had been a shift. I have already received a few inquiries, after the Governor's announcement that Montgomery County would move into the Green Phase this coming week, about whether we are still mandated to follow all the restrictions and limitations noted in the letter.
The short answer is: "Yes."
Bishop Gutierrez has communicated with all the parishes his instructions, a portion of which is printed below. Rather than rework his letter, I include some of it here in order for you to have a better grasp of the rationale and thinking that is going into the decision to currently hold to the plan developed for Church of the Messiah . . .
Our Phased Re-Entry
The reason for this letter is to update you concerning our phased re-entry into worship and life together. For some counties in our diocese, the move to Green Phase or Phase III is coming sooner than expected. I want to clarify what you can expect.
Until we have widespread testing, tracing, treatment, and the vaccine, the safest option is always not to gather. That is why I have always stressed that a church should not move to resume in-person activity until the vestry and clergy have prayerfully discerned that they are both called and fully prepared to do so per the protocols we have laid out.
In Pennsylvania, Phase III is not the lifting of all restrictions. Instead, it is the next step of recovery, which keeps many of the previous precautions in place. This is critical to understand both in terms of regulating our own behavior and in terms of where this phase falls in relation to our Diocesan Plan. … We will be releasing more details on what may be possible for our churches in this next phase by early July.
As your Bishop, I am called to be your shepherd, which is why I have also said that although our counties may move into Green, our churches will not do so until I believe it is actually possible to do so responsibly. Therefore, our diocese will continue to operate under Phase II guidelines until the middle of July.
We will continue to carefully study all available public health data and keep you informed when that date is established. But, as we look ahead, it is also critical to understand that if cases of the virus begin to increase, counties could go backward and have no choice but to re-impose restrictions. We already see this in Florida, where businesses that were recently re-opened are having to close down again due to an outbreak of cases. For the common good, as well as for the sake of our own parishioners, we all must proceed with the utmost caution.
We have waited for so long, and now we see people thronging together outside at parks and at restaurants. We long to be together again, to worship, to pray, to sing. It is important to remember that secular businesses are transactional for a product. As a church, we are sacredly incarnational for one another. We give our lives for one another. Whereby the secular economy goals are profit, the Body of Christ walks together as we seek the Kingdom of God.
We are called to reject the notion of self and the worldly clamor to normalize indifference to others' needs. Our God, whose holiness requires faithfulness, and whose compassion requires total compassion to others, calls us to a sacred standard that transcends the world. When one person suffers, as Christians - we all suffer. We lift one another up, no matter the personal consequence, and always proclaim the hope of Jesus Christ.
At no time have our churches been closed. We are praying throughout the day. We are tending to one another, we are feeding those in our communities, and working hand in hand to tend to the sick. We are reaching out to the lonely and stepping forward to encounter the evil forces in the world. The Church, at its best, is an indestructible force. We must journey together with a unity of purpose and no fear of failure. But it is essential that we love one another. It is our faith where we have hope, and not despair. Courage, and not fear. Love, and not hate.
Let us remember God is with us. God is with us in our homes, our daily offices, our outreach ministries, outside in the sunshine and rain. Yes, God is with us in the violent storms of nature and society. God is with us during the night and the day, in our waking and in our dreams, in our living and in our dying. Let us not fear. Let us live one sacred moment until the next holy moment. Our faith is about living and breathing and walking in that light that is upon us.
We have a long and arduous journey for the next 18 months. Yet, we have hope, love, and Jesus Christ risen and present among us.
Your brother in Christ,
Should you be interested, below is a list of re-entry dates for churches in the diocese:
June: 33 churches
July: 29 churches
August: 9 churches
Sept/Fall/Not Yet Specified: 45 churches
Continue to watch this space for ongoing developments . . .
In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ,
and our God who wants only health and wholeness for his children,
I send you blessings, peace and grace in these uncertain, confusing and anxious times.
LITURGY FOR TOMORROW'S WORSHIP
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you. Alleluia!
And also with you. Alleluia! Alleluia!
COLLECT FOR THE DAY (Proper 8A)
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Jeremiah 28:5-9; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? *
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I have perplexity in my mind,
and have grief in my heart, day after day? *
How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God! *
Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”; *
and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
But I put my trust in your mercy; *
my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt with me richly; *
I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Response: Hear us, O God.
PRAYER FOR NATIONAL HEALING AND UNITY
O God, who created all peoples in your own image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and peoples who have come together in this great nation, and strengthened our culture with the many gifts, talents, perspectives and flavors they have each brought and shared. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, abolish all prejudices that separate us, open our eyes to recognize, and acknowledge, and celebrate your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
V.B.S. in a B.O.X. STARTS MONDAY
Vacation Bible School in the time of a pandemic looks a bit different from what most of us will remember VBS being in the past. Such are these times! But Tiffany Reichley, our Family Ministries: Children Director, along with her very capable and enthusiastic team of volunteers have developed a wonderful alternative. Each child will have a box delivered to their home with all the materials and directions for daily activities and craft projects; and each day, there will be a new posting on the website featuring the day's Bible story, a 'verse of the day', along with skits and songs focused on the day's theme. It promises to be a great experience for all of our younger parishioners and their parents! Please keep the children and families of Messiah in your thoughts and prayers throughout the week ahead.
SUNDAY WORSHIP MUSIC
Be sure to check out the weekly music and carillon recordings. Go to the Gallery tab on the parish website; select videos; there you will find hymns selected for the day, along with Messiah's church bells ringing out the Good News of the Easter season. This music is presented each week by Hannah Albrecht and Sam Frenkel. Thank you, Hannah and Sam!
SUNDAY SERMON AVAILABLE EACH WEEK
Each week, the text of the Sunday sermon is posted to the website. Feel free to print it out if you find that helpful. And perhaps you might also print a copy and send to someone who doesn't have computer access. This would be greatly appreciated and provide a way for these parishioners to also stay connected.
BISHOP GUTIERREZ ON CBS EACH SUNDAYS
Bishop Gutierrez continues to broadcast on the local CBS station for Sunday morning Eucharist services. You can watch at 5:30 a.m. on Channel 3; or 9 a.m. on YouTube and Facebook.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR PLEDGE UP TO DATE
Thank you to all of you who have dropped off or sent in your pledge over the past several weeks! Your faithfulness has allowed us to stay current with payroll and bill payment. Now that we are in a new month - can it really be the end of June already? - please remember to submit this month's pledge. Thank you!